A Closer Look has been a part of the mystery shopping industry since 1994. Based in Norcross, Georgia, their mission is “facilitating a renaissance in service by delivering outstanding feedback…” From the information I could find, this company only has assignments in the United States. They have shops in nearly all industries, including restaurants of all types and many different retail shops such as gas stations, pharmacies, jewelry stores and boutiques. They also shop health and fitness centers, dentists, senior living centers and funeral services. I have seen shops on the job board for professional services ranging from cleaning to automotive repair.
The only shops that have been available in my area are gas station and restaurant shops. While most of the shops I have completed have been reimbursement only, they are still worth the effort. The gas station shops usually pay $5-10 but have a generous reimbursement allowance of $25 for gasoline and an in-store purchase. With gas prices the way they are, that is a deal that is hard to beat. The reports are very simple and only require four photos. The only downside I have found for these shops are that they can only be shopped every 60-90 days.
A Closer look pays by check only. Payment is mailed around the third week of the month following the completion of the shop. The payment date is included on the job board and can be clearly seen when requesting shops. I have never had any payment issues with this company.
I have also had great experiences with the schedulers and editors at ACL. I made some mistakes on my first shop for them, but the editor was very helpful in coaching me through the requirements. When filling out the report online, the first page is actually a questionaire asking if there were any problems or requirements that are not met. The schedulers also quickly respond to emails and normally will reschedule shops without hesitation if there is still time to meet the deadline.
Registering to shop with A Closer Look is also very different than most mystery shopping companies. New shoppers must take a “Shopper Qualifying Test.” The test includes a writing sample. The better the writing sample, the more likely the shopper is to get the best assignments. If the shopper consistently has good reports the schedulers will also schedule shops in advance for those shops that require a waiting period before shopping the location again. The registration link can be found here: https://insight.a-closer-look.com/ShopperApplication-Start.aspx
The reviews of this company on MysteryShopForum.com from experienced shoppers are overwhelmingly positive. There were a few complaints about the “Shopper Qualifying Test” but I think the test is a great way to weed out shoppers who do not have the writing skills necessary to be a mystery shopper. As the mystery shopping industry becomes more competitive, some type of qualification test will probably become the industry standard for applicants. The other complaints seem to be from inexperienced shoppers that have had trouble getting shops submitted because they did not follow the instructions.
Overall, A Closer Look is definitely in the top five companies that I have completed assignments for. The format of their website and their shop requirements are a little different from other companies, but experienced shoppers should have no problems adjusting to the requirements. Inexperienced shoppers should not have any problems, either, as long as they don’t take offense to emails from the editors. They are not trying to be picky and will help youi in any way they can.